What Is The Musical Term For Slow?

In music, we use the word tempo to describe what speed a passage of music should be played at.

But describing the tempo of a piece of music is a little harder than using words like “fast or slow”.

Tempo is a more of a relative term and so in music, we use different Italian terms to describe different speeds.

In this post I’m going to cover all the words we use to describe music as slow. Let’s get started.

Italian terms for slow tempo

Below are all the Italian terms used to describe slow tempos and I’ve put a rough BPM (beats per minute) if you want to use a metronome to check the speed.

Italian termDefinitionBpm
Larghissimoas slow as possibleunder 24 bpm
Adagissimovery slowly20-40bpm
Gravevery slow, solemn25–45 bpm
Largoslowly and broadly40–60 bpm
Lentoslowly45–60 bpm
Larghettofairly slow and broadly60–66 bpm
Adagioslowly66–76 bpm
Adagiettoslower than andante70–80 bpm
Andanteat a walking pace76–108 bpm
Andantinoslightly faster than andante80–108 bpm
Marcia moderatomoderately, in the manner of a march83–85 bpm
Moderatoat a moderate speed108–120 bpm

Note that the beats per minute are rough indications and there are lots of different opinions.

Dan Farrant

Dan Farrant

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 10 years helping thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. Since then he's been working to make music theory easy for over 1 million students in over 80 countries around the world.

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